Sharing Mana‘o

Last week’s column about sandwiches generated many responses and a few interesting recipes. Mahalo to all who emailed or stopped me on the street to share.

The first thing I learned was that butter-sugar sandwiches are not unique to the islands. Lynda from Rhode Island remembered them as a special treat when visiting her grandmother, and her younger brother enhanced his with potato chips — in the sandwich, not on the side.

Several people pointed out that a butter-sugar sandwich is basically a stripped-down version of another childhood favorite — “lazy man’s cinnamon toast” is how one person described it.

Local folks told me they liked Saloon Pilot crackers instead of bread with their butter and sugar. It’s a texture thing, I guess. I always thought Saloon Pilots were for crumbling into hot chocolate or Ovaltine. Now, however, I have a new way to enjoy them, thanks to my cousin Lynn.

After reading my column online, Lynn wrote from Oahu to share her father’s special treat, mayonnaise on soda crackers. Being a mayonnaise addict, I had to try it, but with Saloon Pilots, since I didn’t have any soda crackers in the house.

No, Saloon Pilot crackers are not the same as soda crackers, and yes, the ones we buy today are a little different from the ones we ate as kids. Most of us grew up with Saloon Pilot and Hilo Creme crackers baked by Hilo Macaroni Factory, which closed in 2003. According to an online Honolulu Magazine article, Saloon Pilots originated from hardtack, also known as sea biscuit or pilot bread, made from flour, water, and salt.

The perfect food for long sea voyages, hardtack was introduced here by crew members of 19th century whaling and merchant ships. Hilo Macaroni’s founder got the recipe from a baker aboard a World War I German ship that had been detained in Hilo Harbor. Love’s Bakery used to make pilot crackers too, but today, Oahu’s Diamond Bakery is the only producer of Saloon Pilots. Diamond also makes Royal Creems, which, like the old Hilo Cremes, are delicious with peanut butter and guava jelly.

The most intriguing variations on the peanut butter theme came from Don Couch. After chatting with him at First Friday in Wailuku, I went home and tried one: peanut butter and cheese. Not bad. Now I have to go to the market for bologna. Yes, Don swears that bologna-and-peanut-butter sandwiches are the best. We’ll see.

Elvis famously loved grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches; some say you have to use bacon grease to make an authentic Elvis sammy, or even throw a few strips of bacon into the sandwich. I suppose that’s similar to Don’s childhood favorite.

My friend Lyn said her family loves pandesal with ice cream, so I guess I’ll add the Filipino rolls to my shopping list. I already have a tub of Roselani vanilla bean ice cream in my freezer, next to a couple of bags of Maui Kitch’n Cook’d potato chips. Yes, I buy the Maui chips by the case and stash them in the freezer for occasional binges. I thought about breaking out a bag to try Lynda’s brother’s butter-sugar-potato-chip combo, but I think the Kitch’n Cook’d chips are probably too thick and crunchy to put inside a white bread sandwich. They are, however, perfect for dipping into ice cream.

Oooh, remember when Denny’s trotted out a bacon sundae a couple of years ago? Vanilla ice cream, maple syrup, pecans and lots of crumbled bacon. That was amazing. Almost as good as furikake and mochi crunch sundaes.

I’m sure some of you have your own favorite ice cream pairings. Please do me a favor and don’t share them with me.

* Kathy Collins is a storyteller, actress and freelance writer whose “Sharing Mana’o” column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is